TimYang.com ::: The Geek Blog

Listed in the Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Copywriters Directory at Marketingtool.com Blog search directory

Sunday March 13

How to block anonymous surfing and anonymous surfers

I've had to upgrade the security of this website recently. Because of troll problems that have persisted over the years, I've had to take the drastic step of banning the trolls -- all of whom just so happen to be using Malaysian IPs. In addition to blocking all the ranges of the Malaysian universities and Malaysian ISPs, I've had to block anonymous surfing as well. The Malaysian IPs were easy enough to figure out using a combination of my counter and geo-IP location services like ip-to-country.com. Malaysians are notorious for not paying for anything online so I was concerned with free anonymous surfing proxies and have ignored the commercial ones.

There are several free anonymous surfing proxy IP lists on the internet which you can use with tools such as the Switch Proxy Toolbar for Firefox. Those are time consuming to block since the lists keep getting updated constantly. But it is more likely that most people will try using the anonymous surfing websites first. And those are easily blocked once you figure out the IP of the proxy server or servers.

  1. Find the more popular anonymous surfing sites through a search engine like Google.
  2. Then go to one of the surfing sites and visit an IP tracker site like whatismyip.com via the interface to determine the IP of that the anonymous surfing site uses to mask your own. The danger of using counters to perform this function is that they rely on cookies to determine visiting IPs and most (if not all) anonymous surfing websites don't load cookies so they remain completely unnoticed by counters.
  3. Then edit your .htaccess file and add deny from followed by the IP number that you gained from the IP tracker. Here is an easy tutorial on how to block IPs using htaccess.
  4. Repeat this process for as many of the anonymous surfing sites as you want. I did this for the sites listed in the first 100 results from Google. I think the Malaysians would give up trying long before they reach the end of that list.

For your convenience, here's a short list of the IPs of more popular anonymous surfing sites. These are only samples. These services usually use more than one IP (so you may have to indiscriminately ban a wide range like in the case of proxify.com).

  1. Anonymization.com
  2. The-cloak.com
  3. Proxify.com,, (etc etc)
  4. Guardster.com
  5. Anonymizer.com
  6. Unipeak.com
  7. Misterprivacy.com
  8. Proxybuster.net
  9. Webwarper.net
  10. Surfeasy.info
  11. Surffreedom.com
  12. Proxyone.com
(134 views) Comments [5] Pingbacks [0]

Saturday March 12


Proxidating is a French service that lets you scan your location using Bluetooth for other Proxidating members. Then Proxidating will alert you based on the profile you saved on its website whether you have a potential match.

I like the concept, but this one is also scary in a way. It's far too intrusive for me, even if all parties are consenting. I'm not ready for this one yet.


(39 views) Comments [0] Pingbacks [0]


Dodgeball is a great friend-of-a-friend SMS alert service. Wroks on the basis of a Friendster type network but you get alerts that are sent by friends of friends. It's like a concept I'm trying to introduce to one of the mobile service providers in Malaysia. They have thousands of numbers in phone books that are stored on their network. With some data mining, they can set up a Friendster type network quite easily on their online user interface.


(35 views) Comments [0] Pingbacks [0]

Friday March 11

Which search engine to use

A very comprehensive list of search engines and what they're good for. It also includes directories but that's understandable since they're also good for certain types of information searches. But question-based search engines like askjeeves.com and brainboost.com were left out.


(35 views) Comments [0] Pingbacks [0]

Non-smokers die every day

I don't smoke. But that doesn't mean I can't find Bill Hicks funny.

Non-smokers die every day - Bill Hicks
(42 views) Comments [0] Pingbacks [0]

This was the first Malaysian blog

I certainly didn't introduce blogging to Malaysia, but I can claim that this blog is the oldest Malaysian blog, with the first post date January 4, 2023 on Blogger.com. It is therefore also the longest uninterrupted one.

I've never had to come out and say it until now. It's just that I'm getting the impression that Malaysians are starting to wonder where blogging all began for them. And knowing Malaysians, there's a high chance of some attention-whore trying to grab their 15 seconds at my expense for a position that only I can rightfully lay claim to. For them, there is some undeniable prestige to being the first at something, and Malaysians are always trying to be first at something no matter how silly that thing might be.

This was the first Malaysian blog

Ok, now I'M being silly. Back to work!

(34 views) Comments [0] Pingbacks [0]

Thursday March 10


I quite like this new type of "answer engine". It works like askjeeves.com in which you type in the search query in the form of a question. It will then analyse the question and develop a criteria to recommend a few links which it thinks will answer my question. I never really liked askjeeves.com because when I tested it, it never gave me satisfactory links compared to google.com. But brainboost's recommendations and usability is winning me over. I'll start using this more often in concurrence with gooogle.


(34 views) Comments [0] Pingbacks [0]

sticky footer using CSS

An interesting CSS hack that realises the nirvana of CSS: the browser-scalable layout. It lets you create a footer that's 100% visible and sticks to the bottom of the page, no matter the size of window or screen. It uses a teased bottom property on the footer container and a forced height on the page container. But a hack is still a hack. For what it's worth, it's really inventive.


(65 views) Comments [2] Pingbacks [0]

Why blogging is good for your career

Tim Bray wrote a good article listing 10 reasons why blogging is good for your career.


(35 views) Comments [0] Pingbacks [0]

strike tag bring it back! strike tag bring it back!

Of all the decisions that the WC3 made, the worst was deprecating the strike tag. I love the strike tag. Why did they have to deprecate that? Those dumbasses nice gentlemen retained the bold tag and the italics tag and those do the same thing as the strong tag and the emphasis tag. But they let the strike tag go without a replacement.

It was one of the most useful tags around! You can't have a weblog and a sense of humour without using it every once in a while. "Oh wait..." gets really tiresome and isn't as succinct as the strike tag to suggest irony, sarcasm or satire. When used in those situations, the strike tag was as subtle as applying a sledgehammer to an egg. But it was so effective.

Now we have to have the inconvenience of defining a new class in CSS in every website we want to use a strikeout. Hey look, undeprecate.com and undeprecated.com are still available!

(39 views) Comments [0] Pingbacks [0]


This is an interesting concept. Zopa is the middleman website for peer-to-peer money laundering lending.


(56 views) Comments [0] Pingbacks [0]

Wednesday March 09

How to deal with trolls

Probably the best definition of a troll I've seen is an online personality or content that upsets people (paraphrased from wikipedia.org). People who have been made upset is one of the strongest indications of a troll problem. The term trolling is often applied (wrongly, I think) to suggest inflamatory motives of the person who creates the content or message. It is wrong because in a mediated and remote environment like the internet, it is impossible to tell what the motives of a person are. Worse still, suggesting a person's motives is sometimes used abusively to slander someone. The belief that trolls know what they are doing is a myth. Most of them don't even realise they are upsetting people and sometimes believe they are being thought provoking.

So like all other moderators and weblog owners, I find the hardest part of handling trolls is determining whether it is a troller in action or not. I usually draw the line as soon as the troller attacks someone on a personal level, even if the content is meant sarcastically or as a parody. This approach may sound a bit anal, but I prefer nipping the bud early over having to handle a full blown flamewar. Flamewars upset me and when they occur, it reduces the pleasure I get from visiting my favourite websites and I want less and less to visit them.

Once you have determined that you have a problem, there are a few techniques on how to handle trolls. There is no such thing as a fool-proof automated method of handling trolls. As moderators you must be prepared to wade in, get your hands dirty and take responsibility for your actions. Trolling is a human problem and cannot be handled adequately by a computer.

I looked up more popular forums like slashdot and kuro5hin to create the following list.

  1. Banning them - This the most common way of handling trolls. It is easy, not time consuming and most CMSes have it as a feature. This is especially useful for moderators of large forums who don't have enough time or energy to handle trolls more personally. Banning usually gets rid of the problem completely when the troller is less than aggressive in his pursuit and won't return. But as a rule of thumb, it is usually better to make the ban temporary and not permanent.

    But banning is akin to executing a person -- there is no second chance and is often perceived as being unfair when it is used in contentious cases.

    Banning is also often counter productive because the more determined trollers can sign up as different users and continue their activities. What's worse is that banning also incites the determined trollers so they escalate their attacks. Even if you were to combine this with personal counselling via email, banning is not a good idea if you can help it.

  2. Deleting posts - This is bad for similar reasons as banning trollers. It doesn't stop the problem and it can actually make the problem worse because when the trollers realise what happened, they'll get even more angry.

  3. Editing the posts - I think anything to do with censorship is wrong. But I'm suggesting this method because it can be really really fun! I have taken posts by trollers and just edited them to say funny things and make the trollers look silly or say even complimentary things about myself or the website. The latter really makes the trollers mad because it is the exact opposite of what they intended. They keep posting and their posts keep coming out wrong. This method works best when you are online at the same time as the troller. The advantage of this method is that if it is done right, no one is the wiser except you and the troller, but the message to the troller is loud and clear.

  4. Ridicule the troller - By making wisecracks about the small points of the troller's posts, you can make the troller and his trolls look silly to his audience so that he will be shamed into keeping quiet. This works best with large sites with lots of traffic. But in doing so, you risk breaking the fragility of the self-esteem of the troller. So it is not a very nice tactic at all. If he is aggressive, the troller could take the ridicule as permission to make personal attacks against you. So the more you ridicule him, the higher he escalates his attacks.

    I do not like this method mainly because it sets a very bad precedent for the participants of your community. It encourages mob behaviour so that it is difficult for people to stop attacking (and they may become more violent) even as they cross the point of reason. And the next time someone even suspects that there is a troller in their midst, they may just attack the troller before you can do anything about it.

  5. Counselling trollers/trollees - This is the soft approach. Works brilliantly in cases where the troller is reasonable but is clueless that he is upsetting people. This method afford the moderator the opportunity to explain why people became upset and will probably even prevent future outbursts if the troller promises not to make the same mistake again. You can choose to counsel publicly or counsel privately and the moderator has to determine which approach to use on a case-by-case basis. Counselling often works best with empathy, with humour or in combination with other harder approaches. A kind of carrot and rod methodology.

    Don't forget that counselling must work with all parties. This means the moderator must also counsel the people who got upset! Very often this second part is missed out when using the counselling approach. The people who got upset must be made to empathise with the troller's position and also must be counselled to reduce their reaction should it occur again.

  6. Reasoning with the troller - The key to the success of this approach is endurance. You must outlast the troller, not out-reason him. If the troller is already incensed, his ability to see reason is reduced so it won't be quick or easy. But the state of incense is always a temporary one so if you maintain your composure, you can outlast his state of incense. And he will then be able to see reason again.

    This technique is the most diplomatic. But it can be very emotionally draining and it requires the cooperation of a lot of level headed people at the same time. Every trolling response that's posted only further lengthens the period of the troller's state of incense.

  7. Ignoring the troller - This is often called the "don't feed the trolls" method. It works because it reduces the troller's stature. (There are more techniques below that work on the stature-reduction strategy.) This method requires the cooperation of everyone in the forum or it won't work. And if you have ever tried to get six people to choose which movie to watch, you'll know why ignoring a troller is very difficult to execute successfully. Ignoring the troller is also less satisfactory because it is unlikely to lead to the troller learning from his mistake. Fortunately, many CMSes have an ignore feature built in. Users are encouraged to use the ignore feature to block all content from a troller. The problem with this is that when the troller returns to a reasonable state of mind, it will be too late for him. Everyone is permanently ignoring him.

  8. Reduce the prominence of the troll - Trollers often post inflamatory remarks because they want attention or to raise themselves above other posters. So reducing the prominence of their posts punishes them by reducing the attention they get. It also sends them the right message that, although they are valuable to the community, their post was inconsiderate. Reducing the prominence can be as simple as reducing the point size of the post or the contrast of the text to make it hard to read. Or if your CMs can handle it, move it to some out of the way place on the page.

    Reducing prominence needs a really special CMS (there are none that I know of that can do this easily) or it has to be labour intensive on the part of the moderator. It is very manageable and preferable on sites that are small. But it only works on sites that have a controlled environment like a forum (not a chatroom). But it can be very intensive if you have a large site with few moderators.

  9. Separating the combatants - This is a technique that I invented for forums. It means splitting the offensive posts off to a sandbox forum where they can stay until everyone has cooled off. It is very easy to do with most forum softwares because post-splitting is a common feature. Trolling raises temperatures temporarily among people who would otherwise be quite reasonable. It only takes a bit of time before their heads are back to normal. Which is why this method makes a lot of sense. You don't have to chastise anyone or embarass anyone. And the posts don't get deleted so all your content is intact.

    This technique is most effective (and less labour intensive) when the number of combatants are small and limited. Fortunately, it is CMS-assisted.

  10. Isolate the trollers - From slashdot: "Modify the software so that you "isolate" a user rather than ban them. By which I mean an isolated user would see his own posts, but no other user would. So the creeps wouldn't know right away that they'd been shut out, and would just think they were being ignored. And other users wouldn't have to deal with them. Maybe even make it so that isolated users see posts from all other isolated users, so that the sick abusive group members could brag to each other about their posts, not realizing that they're shouting into a vacuum."

    A really good idea, and beehiveforum can apparently (unconfirmed) do something similar to this right now.

  11. Complain to the authorities - Usually this means the troller's ISP. Everyone agrees that this is always the last resort and is used after banning doesn't work. But many ISPs, to reduce resource costs, will use dynamic IPs so you can't simply report the troller's IP to the ISP. And most ISPs won't have the necessary software to track down the troller based on the time of his activities in your community. On top of that, this won't stop the troller and it won't be the last you'll hear of him. So don't even consider this one. It's a waste of time.

  12. Make your community invitation only - This will prevent the casual troller from making his presence known in your community. But this will often reduce the size and the growth potential of your community. On the upside, it will build a community with strong links with each member so that the community will police itself. It's give and take with this method but the toll may be too high for most.

Whatever you choose to do, you cannot leave a troll situation on its own. At best it will fizzle and die out. At worst, you will lose good community members. Or, just as bad, your community could get a bad reputation. If you handle a troll situation, no matter what happens, you will at least gain the reputation of being a responsible moderator.

More tips here: Handling online vermin

(51 views) Comments [0] Pingbacks [0]

Tuesday March 08

The Male Turd Ratio (MTR) - How to choose the right online dating site

I don't post my profile on just any website. First of all, it requires a lot of thought and effort on my part. If I want to be open about my personality and my likes and dislikes, I also want to be really certain it is going to be displayed in the best light. So before determining whether the online dating site can help me find a match, I have to determine whether the online dating site is a match for me.

It's not enough to just check out the women on the site. I always check who the competition are. The straight men are the main determinant. I scan through the list, paying special attention to the paying customers. If there are too many of the type of customers I call the "Male Turds", then they will chase off the good women. It makes sense to go with an online dating site where there is an abundance of good competition rathern than bad competition.

An online dating site with a high Male Turd Ratio (MTR) will have women who will assume I'm a male turd just like all the other male turds. As a result, they are less likely to respond or less likely to register and post a good profile.

Male Turds are those who have profiles that are turn-offs. They typically use explicit usernames or profile titles. Or they post explicit photos or post photos that are obviously fake. Or the profiles are scantily or just badly-worded. Altogether, these profiles give the women the impression that the site is filled with untrustworthy Male Turds who are there for shady reasons. Or that there just aren't any good males on the site.

Unfortunately, most of the online dating sites are filled with Male Turds. But an online dating site's MTR always fluctuates. The good online dating sites periodically erase bad profiles or attract more good profiles. So I have to scan the straight male section of online dating sites to determine the MTR every once in a while.

Lavalife.com seems to have a decently low MTR. I rather prefer that site to Match.com which also has a decently low MTR because Lavalife.com requires payment on a per usage basis, whereas Match.com's price structure is a time basis (monthly) package. I may not always make the best use of the site in the time I have.

(75 views) Comments [0] Pingbacks [0]

Monday March 07

P*rnzilla: Free tools for surfing p*rn with Firefox

This site has bookmarklets that remove redirects from thumbnail galleries that sometimes redirect you to an advertiser. And much more. Very useful.


(As you have noticed, I am now very careful about putting the word p*rn on my website. I want to have the freedom of broaching the subject. But I hate it when the search engines deliver traffic that's only looking for p*rn.)

(57 views) Comments [0] Pingbacks [0]
PREV page NEXT page

Tim Yang © // Email Me // XHTML 1.1 // CSS valid // 508 Passed // My PDF resume